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How Weight Loss Is Like the Circus (Elephant-sized Epiphanies)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

I've been reading "Unlimited" by Jillian Michaels. She puts this story in her book:

"A father and his young son are at the circus. The son sees a huge elephant shackled with flimsy, rusted chains. Turning to his dad, he asks, 'Isn't that elephant strong enough to break free from those chains?'

'Of course he is,' his dad answers. 'It's just that he's been chained like that since he was too small and weak to break free, and now he doesn't know the difference.'"

Why did this story resonate with me? It made me think about my ongoing, life-long struggle with food. It began long before I was old enough to know about nutrition. By the time I did know about nutrition, my compulsive behaviors felt as much a part of me as any other characteristic or trait.

That familiarity used to trump everything. If it was comfortable, it stayed. Whether or not it was healthy. End. Of. Story. But one of the many things I have learned is that you can't undo an epiphany. Once you look down and realize that there are shackles around your ankles, manacles that prevent you from stepping away from something that no longer serves you, it becomes time to bend at the waist and release them. Sometimes the lock is rusty. Sometimes you use the wrong key. Sometimes it just feels like your ankles are too far away. But once you see the glint of the chains you now have a choice. From time to time I forget about choice.

So moral of the story?

I realized that I am the elephant.

If I believe I can't, then I can't.

If I believe I can, then I can.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • SPARK_JO
    I like the analogy. I started realizing the extent of my emotional issues with food about 10 years ago: I had a flashback of me being a kid, punished with my dinner alone in my room, crying and eating alone at my desk with a sense of revenge, I remembered the food barely chewed going down my throat, the taste of tears in my mouth, the light pain in my stomach... That was the first step of a long journey to make peace with food and maybe someday completely heal from emotional eating.

    Thanks Mother for your great educational moves.
    2873 days ago

    Comment edited on: 7/2/2013 2:09:12 AM
  • no profile photo CD12755816
    This was lovely. Thank you.


    2888 days ago
  • ANDYLIN90
    Great blog, thanks for posting.
    2891 days ago
  • BLACK_CANARY19
    This is an awesome blog! I can totally relate. I've been overweight since as long as I can remember! I was always the chubby kid even though I was in sports my whole life and was always active. I think that I had never learned what it was like to not think about food constantly. I'm always thinking about my next meal and it's been like THAT since I can remember...so glad I finally stood up and said I'm not being that elephant anymore and I'm gonna try and break these chains!

    Thanks for the motivation and inspiration! :)
    2891 days ago
  • TARAELIZABETH3
    I know exactly what you mean! Fantastic analogy, Ashley! I'm so glad we're getting rid of these chains!
    2892 days ago
  • DESERT_WANDERER
    I've had that chain locked around my ankles for years as well, I'm glad that I finally saw them earlier this year.

    Great blog!
    2892 days ago
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